When renting a vehicle, you’ll typically be encouraged by your attending customer relations rep to pre-pay for your final tank of gasoline. In Hertz, Budget, Avis and most other car rental outlets, they call this their “Fuel Purchase Option” or “Fuel Service Option.” Basically, on picking up the car you will be asked to pay in advance for a full tank of fuel at rates that are comparable to the current local retail pump price. However, under this option, you will also be told to bring the car back as close to empty as possible because no credit will be given for any unused fuel.
By prepaying for gasoline, you can save yourself time, inconvenience and maybe some money. There’s no need to search for a gas station before returning the car. If you’re on a tight schedule and you don’t have time to look for a gas station to fill up your car prior to returning it, this may be the best option for you. Additionally, if your planned itinerary entails using the rental vehicle for a trip that’ll run over 400 miles, chances are you’ll really be needing at least a full tank of gas during your rental period. Finally, if you’re renting at a time when fuel prices are fluctuating wildly, you’ll have peace of mind in knowing that your price has been locked in or fixed in advance no matter what’s being charged at the pumps when you’re ready to return the car.
On the downside, prepaying for a full tank of gasoline may not be the best possible option for you if aren’t planning on driving that much, as when you’ll be spending most of your vacation or business trip in just a few places. You’ll end up having just bought the gasoline for the next person to rent the vehicle you just returned.
If you won’t benefit from pre-buying your fuel, what other options are there? At Budget and at Avis, if you don’t choose their Fuel Service Option and you bring the car back less than full, you’ll be asked to pay a fuel service charge under their “EZFuel” package. Here, if you drive 75 miles or more, depending on whether or not you bought fuel during your rental, this charge will be a per-mile or per-gallon rate and will be stated on your rental agreement. If on the other hand you drive less than 75 miles, an automatic $13.99 EZFuel service charge will be applied, but which you can avoid by buying your own fuel before returning the vehicle, duly supported with a receipt from the gas station. Hertz has a similarly priced option package they call “Express Fuel.”